August 17, 2010 / 6:20 PM / 9 years ago

William Shatner reinvents TV image with new shows

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - William Shatner will always be known for his role as the resolute Captain Kirk on classic television series “Star Trek.” Yet, recently he has carved out his own brand of journalism on TV and in September, he boldly steps into the world of TV sitcoms.

Having starred in cop drama “TJ Hooker” and law shows “Boston Legal” and “The Practice,” Shatner takes on an elderly father in upcoming “$#*! My Dad Says” debuting next month on U.S. network CBS. At the same time, he starts a third season of his talk show “Shatner’s Raw Nerve” on cable TV’s Bio Channel.

All this while Shatner is appearing in and executive producing another program, “Aftermath with William Shatner” also on Bio, in which he interviews people who were the subject of media headlines in the past. He talked with Reuters about all he has going on, and why “$#*!” should be said on TV.

Q: In “Aftermath” you interview those who became household names overnight due to unforeseen circumstances — the DC Snipers and the Unabomber, for instance. What makes them sit down with Capt. Kirk, instead of (broadcaster) Katie Couric?

A: “They’re anxious to tell their story. They’ve had their 15 minutes (of fame) and here’s an opportunity to present that story once again from their side. It may also be they know me in some manner and want to talk to me.”

Q: When they first meet you, do they get excited to meet someone they’ve watched on TV?

A: “They do indeed, but then they get past that and see that it’s not an actor, but a human being who is vitally interested in them.”

Q: How do you like being in the journalist’s chair?

A: “I have no journalistic experience, I have no technique. What I have is curiosity. I’m not out to hurt them. I don’t have an agenda. I’m sort of fumbling my way into a person’s psyche because of an innate interest in them and what they’re thinking and feeling as a result of the experience they went through.”

Q: Your new comedy is based on a Twitter feed, “Shit My Dad Says,” and the network has changed its title to “$#*! My Dad Says” because you can’t say “shit” on TV. The network uses the word “bleep” instead. The Parents Television Council wants advertisers to boycott the show because of the language. When you reference the show, do you say “shit” or “bleep”

A: “We call it ‘S—-.’ I urge you to look at the word ‘s—-.’ It’s the vernacular, not the act of defecation. All you’re arguing is should the word ‘s—-‘ be allowed in the English language in nice company. If you’re talking to a jazz musician and he says, ‘I’ve got to get my shit together,’ are you appalled, or do you say, ‘Yeah, I understand?’”

Q: Do you tweet?

A: “Oh yes, I’m quite active in it. I don’t know how to technically do it, but I have some young people who do it for me. I try to be little informative, but mostly I try to instigate.”

Q: The actor who was cast as your son on the show was replaced after the pilot episode. Why?

A: ‘The network felt the young man lacked dramatic weight is the only way I can think of it. But it’s pretty common to for a network to recast.’

Q: Has that ever happened to you?

A: “Has the ax ever fallen on my head? No. (laughs) But maybe that’s because I’m always expecting it to.”

Q: Your speech pattern is so distinct that it’s become very easy to imitate you. Why do you think that is?

A: “(laughs) I don’t really recognize that pattern of speech, but I go along with it.”

Q: At 79 years-old, you’ve got three U.S. shows, plus a reality show called “Weird or What” in your native Canada. You’re still a pitchman for discount travel service Priceline and are also a partner in My Outer Space, a social networking website for sci-fi fans. Where do you find the time?

A: “I’ve discovered the answer, which is to get up a couple of hours earlier. You can get anything done if you’re up early. That and Omega-3s.

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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